This is exactly the recipe you need to turn an average weeknight meal into something surprisingly delicious. Plus, it’s full of vegetables.
I don’t crave Asian flavors too often…I usually gravitate towards Mediterranean dishes when I need to quickly throw something together. But, when I do crave something a little bolder, like an Asian inspired vegetable dish, I like it sweet and I like it spicy.
Over the weekend I went to Duck Duck Goat, one of Stephanie Izard’s restaurants here in Chicago. It’s a Chinese restaurant like you’ve never seen before, with dishes that are not only extremely unique, but mouth wateringly delicious. I went with my family, and we are always big eaters who order way too much food at restaurants. We ended up sharing 18 dishes total (the server definitely thought we were crazy).
However, even though we had way too much food, we got to try so many cool dishes like scallion pancakes, beef short rib and bone marrow potstickers, glass noodles with smoked blueberries, and a whole peking duck. My absolute favorite dish out of everything we ate had to be, without a doubt, the pekan cauliflower.
I wasn’t expecting much out of this dish, neither was anyone else. But to say we were blown away is an understatement. The cauliflower was so absolutely crispy, and the sticky, sweet pecans added the perfect sweetness to a rather complexly flavored dish. It was unreal.
The flavors of that dish reminded me of these spicy chili glazed vegetables I had made a few weeks ago, so I thought it was the perfect time to share the recipe. It’s got a really rich, deeply flavored sauce made with roasted red chili paste and a dash of fish sauce. The trick with the vegetables is to let them sauté until completely caramelized. Don’t rush this process. It’s where all the flavor comes from.
To top it off, because every good vegetable dish needs a crunchy topping, are some sticky honey peanuts. I actually was planning to cook them a different way, but completely forgot about them on the stove. The result? Perfectly coated honey glazed peanuts. What makes them so good even though they’re so simple is the salt. You need lots of salt to bring out all the sweetness.
I hope you enjoy this dish, and if you’re in Chicago I would head over to Duck Duck Goat immediately!
- 10 oz green beans, trimmed
- 10 oz sugar snap peas
- 4 baby bok choy, ends trimmed & halved lengthwise
- 4 oz chopped peanuts
- 1 oz honey
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 10 oz sliced Japanese eggplant (1/4” thick)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup rice wine
- 2 tbsp roasted red chili paste
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 lime
- Prepare a large pot of boiling, salted water. Blanch the green beans, sugar snap peas, and baby bok choy separately until each vegetable is slightly tender and bright green, about 3-4 minutes per vegetable. Strain and transfer them to an ice bath. Allow to cool in the ice bath for 1 minute. Strain the vegetables again and let dry on paper towels.
- Meanwhile, add the peanuts and honey to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together and let cook until the honey comes to a bubble. Simmer the mixture until the moisture evaporates and the honey coats the peanuts (should be a sticky coating). Transfer the peanuts to a plate and immediately season with a generous amount of salt. Set aside.
- Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté for a few minutes. Add the eggplant. Make sure to arrange the eggplant so that it lays in a flat, even layer. You want the oil to reach each slice. Let the eggplant and the shallots cook until tender and completely caramelized (they should be golden browned), stirring occasionally. Adjust the heat if needed so the eggplant cooks well, but does not burn.
- Meanwhile, coat another large sauté pan with oil over medium heat (not too much oil here, just enough to lightly coat the pan). Add the garlic and let cook for 30 seconds until fragrant (be careful not to burn the garlic or else it will be bitter). Add the blanched vegetables and stir to coat. Let the vegetables caramelize slightly. Deglaze the pan with the rice wine. Bring the liquid to a bubble. Stir in the chili paste and fish sauce. Let the mixture simmer, stirring often. Transfer the eggplant mixture to the pan. The entire dish should have a good coating of sauce. When the sauce has thickened and reduced, taste the vegetables. Season with more fish sauce if needed.
- Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and squeeze a generous amount of lime juice over top. Garnish with the honey peanuts.
For a classic French dessert with a twist, check out my previous recipe: Fig & Pistachio Tarte Tatin